Meat allergy is a little more complex than the other types we have read so far.
When the body is overloaded with immunoglobulin E antibodies, it is a result of the Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, which is also called Alpha-gal allergy.
While it is thought that people consuming meat may be susceptible to meat allergy it has been found that even vegetarians are at risk of reaction to meat allergy arising out of a reaction to the carbohydrate.
The Lone Star Tick cause allergic reactions in humans. Alpha-Gal is present in all mammals and not in apes and humans. If a tick feeds on a mammal, the alpha-gal stays in its alimentary canal. When bitten by a tick, the tick transfers the alpha-gal into the person’s body specifically the skin. This triggers the body’s immune system to release a flood of immunoglobulin E antibodies (a.k.a. IgE) to fight off the foreign carbohydrate. The exact component of the tick’s saliva that causes the reaction remains unknown still.
The West and North Central parts of the US were found to have high incidences of the alpha-gal allergies. But in Hawaii too several alpha-gal allergies were detected, but no tick is known to cause allergy were present.
Basically a tick bite causes humans to develop allergy to meat. The disease is known to occur even in Australia.
A typical allergic reaction to alpha-gal occurs sometime after 3–8 hours of the consumption of mammalian meat products, unlike the typical rapid onset with other food allergies.
The response, however, is quite as it happens in other allergy cases – an IgE-mediated allergy, including severe whole-body itching, hives, angioedema, gastrointestinal upset, and possible anaphylaxis.
These symptoms are triggered by a big number of IgE antibodies attacking the allergen, in this case, the alpha-gal.
In a big number of meat allergy cases, say 70%, the reaction is accompanied by respiratory distress and as such asthma patients may face distress.
Alpha-gal allergies or meat allergy are the first food related allergies to come with the possibility of delayed anaphylaxis. Unlike other food allergies, it is associated with a carbohydrate, rather than a protein and the first one to be so.
A person suffering from midnight anaphylaxis is most likely to be diagnosed with mammalian meat allergy after tick bite until proven otherwise.
Those suffering from meat allergy are usually seen to develop allergic reactions after consuming beef, chicken or duck.
If a person is doubted to have allergic reactions to meat, a blood test or skin prick test may be conducted.
The skin on the back or forearm is pricked with using a probe containing a small amount of the allergen. If the body is allergic to it, it will develop a small bump at the site of the prick.
How to avoid the meat allergy?
The best possible way to avoid the allergy is to avoid consuming the known meat or any food that contains the meat. Meat allergy is known to subside after some time unlike other types of allergies.